glad to have you on this edition of "newsline." it's wednesday may 11th, 11:00 a.m. in tokyo. i'm catherine kobayashi. two months have passed since the great east japan earthquake and tsunami. the disaster has left more than 24,800 people dead or missing. people are making efforts, oath rather police are making efforts to recover bodies and continue
their search for people unaccounted for. the national police agency puts the number of deaths at 14,949. by prefecture, 8,941 have been confirmed dead in miyagi. 4,400 in iwate and 1,544 in fukushima. the number of people who remain unaccounted for has fallen to 9,880 from a peak of 17,600 in late march. some people were counted twice. while others became evacuees. in fukushima prefecture where the troubled nuclear power plant is located, the number of missing has fallen to 600 after briefly approaching 6,000 in confusion during evacuation. meanwhile, japan's weather officials say the number of aftershocks is declining gradually. but the officials warn of a possibility of strong aftershocks, especially in eastern japan. during the past two months, there were nearly 450 aftershocks of magnitude 5.0 or stronger including 2 powerful jolts of magnitude 7.1 and 7.
an nhk survey revealed the hardships faced by people in the hardest-hit prefectures. 435 people across the three prefectures took part in the poll. more than 450,000 people were living in shelters just after the quake, but the number has now dropped to about 120,000. many evacuees left the shelters saying they were tired of living in groups. some fas yils were closed or merged. among those living in shelters, lack of privacy was the biggest concern cited by 38% of respondents. being unable to bathe was a problem and the same cited a lack of utilities. 34% staying with relatives said the lack of access to information including notices from their municipalities is a problem. a 48-year-old woman living in a
home in iwate prefecture says she still lacks water and electricity and can only bathe once every four or five days at facilities provided by the japanese self-defense forces. the operator of the troubled announced last month a planned schedule to bring the accident under control. the utility is facing a setback due to high radiation levels in reactor buildings. tepco announced the plan on april 17th detailing 51 measures to be implemented over next three months for the first stage. the most important steps involve the cooling of the reactors. these include pumping water into the reactors, injecting nitrogen into the containment vessels to prevent a hydrogen blast and filling them with water. the company's also considering installing heat exchangers. workers have entered the number one reactor building to make preparations for ejecting water into the containment vessel.
on tuesday they began calibrating the water gauges. but high levels of radiation have been detected inside the number one building, and experts say it may force tepco to change its work plan. in addition, none of these measures have been carried out at the three other reactors apart from pumping water into them. the japanese government plans inform schools in fukushima prefecture that burying radiation topsoil into the ground is a way to reduce the radiation level. the education and science ministry concluded this after conducting an experiment at a school in fukushima city on sunday. they say burying contaminated soil 50 centimeters underground reduced the overall radiation level by 90%. after the nuclear accident at the fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant, schools in the prefecture have been restricting outdoor activities. radiation levels in soil at all the schools except one remain in the official limit for children playing outdoors.
in two cities, top soil has been removed from school yards as a precaution, but the schools have not been able to get the soil transported away because the government has no disposal guidelines. the government will report its latest findings to the prefecture's education board and nuclear safety commission on wednesday. almost 60% of the nuclear reactors in japan are currently shut down. some were closed after the march 11th disaster. others were suspended for routine inspections. the unusually high figure will have a significant impact on the nation's power supply this summer. japan has 54 commercial reactors across the nation. 14 of them have been suspended since march 11th. another 18 are undergoing regular inspections, bringing the number of reactors not operating to 32 as of wednesday. one electric power company is
expected to halt the operation of two reactors at the nuclear plant in central japan as early as this weekend. the move follows the government request to shut them down at the risk of a major earthquake. six others are to undergo routine inspections by the summer. decisions whether to resume reactor operations are likely to have a significant impact on the nation's power supply this summer. a u.n. sponsored conference on disaster preparedness has opened in geneva taking up the nuclear accident in japan as its main topic. some 2,700 government officials and delegates from about 170 nations are taking part in the four-day meeting starting on tuesday. u.n. secretary general ban ki-moon called for tighter safety measures at nuclear power stations to better protect citizens. >> the tragedy at japan's fukushima daiichi nuclear power
plant has raised questions about the future of nuclear energy and fueled public fears. >> a civic group representative said some nuclear reactors are ill-prepared for earthquakes and tsunami. many participants called for stronger measures to contain damage at nuclear plants. a japanese government official said the country will share its analysis of the fukushima nuclear accident with other nations so they could use the information for disaster prevention measures. the japanese government has held a seminar in tai pei to ease taiwanese concerns about the safety of japanese food in the wake of the nuclear accident in fukushima. japan's interchange association invited taiwanese companies and media to the event on tuesday. japanese officials told the participants that the food in the supply chain does not contain levels of radioactive
substances that exceed the official limits. they also explained japan's ongoing efforts to bring the nuclear accident under control. >> translator: it was a relief to hear that japanese seafood is safe. >> taiwan began radiation checks of imported japanese food after the nuclear accident. in a related move, senior officials of the japan tourism agency will hold another seminar in taiwan on thursday to stress that japan is a safe country to visit. now, let's take a look at the latest in business news. thanks a lot. let's start with news about china. china wouldn't budge on human rights issues or allowing its currency to appreciate further. the strategic and economic
dialogue concluded its two-day itinerary in washington on tuesday. timothy geithner told reporters that the u.s. urged china to accelerate the appreciation of the yuan. >> we hope that china moves to allow the exchange rate to appreciate more rapid ly agains the currencies of all its trading partners. >> he also said china promised to remove preference treatment of domestic firms. china wasn't accommodating on revaluing its yuan. it said the u.s. should stabilize the dollar, the key international currency. china's new car sales in april fell slightly from the same month last year. this is the first decline in the monthly figure in more than two years. the china association of automobile manufacturers said on tuesday that more than 1.5
million new cars were sold in april. that's a drop of 0.2% from a year earlier. the last year on year decline was january 2009 during the global financial crisis. auto parts from japan have been in short supply since the march 11th earthquake and tsunami. japanese plants in china scaled back production. toyota motor sales in china plunged by 23.5%, the figure for honda motor fell by 22%. the expiration last december of many government subsidies for new car purchases contributed to the decline. beijing also limited the issuance of license plates in the capital to ease traffic congestion and reduce pollution. this is another factor behind the drop. since 2009, china is the world's largest auto market. last year sales topped 18 million units. japan's debt reached a
record of 924 trillion yen or over $11 trillion at the end of march this year. that translates into nearly $90,000 for every japanese citizen. the finance ministry says the nation's outstanding debt, including japanese government bonds and borrowings grew by about $500 billion by a year earlier. the record debt is due to more government bond issues. the money raised is being used to cover the growing cost of social services as the elderly account for more and more of the japanese population. the ministry expects the debt to exceed over $12 trillion by march 2012. the government will draft a second supplementary budget late they are year to finance the reconstruction of areas devastated by the march 11th disaster. a huge amount of bond issues is expected to fund the spending. ahead of expected power shortages this summer, japanese automakers will operate lines on
weekends and close them a couple of days a week to conserve electricity in the peak months. in the wake of the march 11th disaster, power is expected to be short across a wide area of eastern japan in the coming months. the japanese government has asked big users to cut electricity consumption by 15% during weekday peak hours this summer. the japan automobile manufacturers association has decided that automakers will open production lines on weekends. factories will be closed on thursdays and fridays. the measure will be adopted from july through september. the association also plans to ask an industrial group of over 400 automotive parts firms to join the power-saving efforts. toyota motor is making progress in tackling supply disruptions caused by the earthquake, having secured 80% of missing components. toyota had to slash production
due to shortage of parts and materials, and now two months after the disaster, the firm's domestic output remains at about half the normal level. as of late april, toyota lacked sufficient supplies of about 150 items, including controller chips. the automaker now says it secured supply for 80% of those components. to procure the remaining items and restore production as soon as possible, toyota will assist suppliers in their recovery efforts or use substitute parts. the automaker indicated it will start raising output in july and reach the predisaster level by the end of this year. meanwhile, japanese truck maker heno motors will expect production to return to prequake levels in july. it can secure supplies of four types of components that have been difficult to procure since the quake. this includes rubber components and also an electronic part that controls engines. the parts will allow the company
to gradually increase production which has been down 70% to 80%. the company expressed its hopes to provide as many trucks as possible since they are essential for the reconstruction of disaster-hit areas. let's go to the markets. tokyo stocks extended their gains wednesday morning, briefly reaching the 9,900 mark for the first time in four sessions. the nikkei finished the morning at 9,868. that's up about 50 points or 0.50% from tuesday's close. the key index opened higher with exporters leading the advance following an overnight rise in new york. the upside was capped as many investors stayed on the sidelines to keep an eye on a string of corporate earnings reports due out this week. >> on the tokyo foreign exchange, the dollar is almost unchanged against the yen on wednesday morning. the greenback is currently trading between 80.90 to 91 yen,
whereas the euro stands between 116.53 to 57 yen. market sources say the dollar is expected to move in a narrow range against the yen amid receding worries about debt problems in greece. let's look at the latest long-term interest rates. this is the yield on the benchmark ten-year japanese government bond. we are seeing hong kong and mainland china shares trading in the negative. shanghai major blue chips down about 0.28%. shenzhen down 1.06% currently. >> companies in japan have been taking a range of measures to prepare for power shortages expected this summer. one key initiative is the renting of power generators. >> major japanese beverage maker owns this plant in central
japan. the management rented more than 10 power generators, anticipating a shortage of electricity in the summer. it uses lactic acid bacteria in most products. blackouts would have a devastating effect on outputs because it requires careful temperature control. >> translator: we decided to rent the generators because they were available immediately. we wanted to have a backup plan in place as early as possible. because we have no idea what to expect. >> demand for power generators is rapidly growing. a construction equipment rental firm has been working to obtain them. since the march 11th natural disaster, it's received inquiries about generators. the firm doesn't have enough to
meet that level of demand. the electricity frequency used in eastern japan is rare in the world, so the firm is seeking used japanese generators abroad. it's buying one suitable for use in eastern japan from overseas dealers. the firm plans to import about 500 generators, service them and rent them out. >> translator: it's the first time we imported generators exported from japan. our mission is to deliver them in excellent condition to our clients as soon as possible. >> the mismatch between supply and demand is made worse by the fact generator manufacturers in japan have been short of parts since the disaster. let's get you a recap of the latest market figures.
that is all for now in business news. among the variety of possession possessions japanese lost in the march 11th earthquake and tsunami were school uniforms. so recent graduates of a school in miyagi prefecture donated their uniforms to current students in need. >> the new semester began two weeks late this year.
some students had no uniform for the opening ceremony. the tsunami ruined the possessions of many students. recent graduates visited the school after learning that some of the current students needed uniforms. they donated over 200 secondhand uniforms. the donors also wrote personal messages to the recipients. nana abe graduated this spring. >> translator: i would like to donate it to a current student along with the memories it holds. >> abe used to sing in the school choir.
this is her first time in the music room since the disaster. her choir was supposed to compete for the first time in a national competition in the middle of march, but it was canceled due to the earthquake. the music room still has a video recording of the choir's final rehearsal before the competition. ♪ the disaster stopped them from appearing on stage and singing one last time together.
>> translator: i want to pass my fondest wishes on to the current students and teachers and let them know i'm cheering them on and thinking of them. >> the school re-opens on this day. second-year student received abe's uniform. sato's home was destroyed by tsunami. she now goes to school from an evacuation center. this is abe's note. >> translator: wear this uniform and do your best at school.
>> translator: i'm so happy. thank you. i never realized how blessed i was. i took it for granted that i could go to school every day. now that i've lost my home and people who were close to me, i really hope that i can meet my friends at school and have a happy time with them. >> these uniforms made it through the disaster. kind words and prayers from the recent graduates are helping current students to begin moving forward. hi there, welcome to your weather update. we are still keeping an eye on that tropical storm system. now over open waters in the pacific here but getting close
to the okinawe islands. it's still a potent system and will be bringing strong winds in toward the islands in a couple of hours. it will be roughing up those seas. it should become a tropical depression in the next 24 hours or so. it's going to be getting close to the southern kushu as it goes. it will affect the pacific side of japan for the next day or two. we are looking at this frontal system. it's been bringing heavy rain and continues again today. for china, the heavy rain is moving southward to the southern tier which will look wet today. for the korean peninsula and toward japan, heavy rain will be moving through. watch out for very heavy
downpours, locally heavy downpours are going to be possible, continuing from yesterday. accumulations are really starting to pile up here. as for highs for wednesday, 22 expected in seoul. getting up to 28 in beijing. pretty lot. meanwhile shanghai 27 degrees. hot for you with thunder showers possible today. tokyo coming in at 14 degrees. will be on the cool side. plenty of sunshine in to ishinomaki. gusty weather possible, too. showers starting up later on in the day. sendai will look at sunshine for wednesday. from soma into mito, you're looking at showers today. that trend continues on thursday. heading into north america now, we are looking at active couple of lows here in the midsection of the united states. it's going to be bringing wet
and even snowy weather to this wide section through the middle of the united states and in through central canada. the rockies, especially in and around colorado looking at quite a bit of snowfall tonight. wednesday also looking at rain that will spread from central texas all what it up into ontario. widespread area going to be looking at rain. rain drops in toward the southeast of the united states, as well. tonight we are looking at that severe weather threat. it will be in the upper midwest. down in towards the carolinas looking at the chance of severe thunderstorms, large hail, damaging winds and possible tornadic activity. stay well updated with local watches and warnings here. wednesday's highs will show plenty of heat hanging on to houston. 33 is your high. it's getting hot in chicago with a high of 29. on the other hand, much cooler in denver today, 11 with showers. that is a look at your weather for now.
some were closed after the march 11th disaster. others were suspended for routine inspections. the unusually high figure will have a significant impact on the nation's power supply this summer. japan has 54 commercial reactors across the nation. 14 of them have been suspended since march 11th. another 18 are undergoing regular inspections, bringing the number of reactors not operating to 32 as of wednesday. chubu electric power companies expected to halt two reactors in central japan as early as this weekend. the move follows a government request to shut them down due to the risk of a major earthquake. six other reactors in the country are scheduled to undergo routine inspections by the summer. power companies and local governments whether to resume operations are likely to have a significant impact on the nation's power supply this summer that. wraps up this edition of